When it comes to coloring your hair at home, there doesn’t seem to be any middle ground. It’s either a resounding success or the end of the world!
However, many people do color their hair at home – very successfully! Here’s a guide to help you do it too!
How long and how strong?
The first thing you need to decide is how long you want your new color to last for. The length of time a color lasts depends on how it works on your hair. Check out this list of home hair color products to help you decide.
Who Knew? A human hair has three layers. The very inner core is called the medulla. This is surrounded by the second layer, the cortex. The outer layer is the cuticle.
Temporary Only lasts through 1 or 2 shampoos. This doesn’t usually contain peroxide or ammonia and works by coating the outside of the hair cuticle. It can’t take your hair lighter but can deepen, brighten or enhance your existing color.
Semi-Permanent This will last for between 4 and 6 shampoos. Like temporary color, it’s usually free of peroxide and ammonia. It coats the outside of the hair cuticle and penetrates the next layer. If your hair is dry or damaged, it may last longer as your hair is more porous.
Demi-Permanent This will see you through up to 20 shampoos. The color takes between the cuticle and cortex. These colors often contain some peroxide and ammonia.
These first three are generally considered ‘safe’ to use at home and are a good starter if you’ve never colored your hair before. You can also use a semi permanent color to see if you like it before taking the plunge into permanent!
Permanent This color stays until it grows out, is cut off or covered with another color. These always contain peroxide and ammonia. The cuticle is opened by the chemicals and the color goes into the cortex.
Highlights These are permanent and contain peroxide, ammonia and often, bleach. They take color from the cortex.
Double Process Color The cuticle is chemically opened and the hair is lightened 4 – 6 levels using peroxide, ammonia and bleach. Then a new color is put in through the cuticle into the cortex.
Choosing your new color
This is the exciting bit but don’t get too carried away. Stylists say that most home hair color disasters happen when the color has been bought on impulse! It’s a good idea to stay within 1 or 2 shades (darker or lighter) of your natural color. You also need to consider your skin tone and age.
Ready to change color?
- If you use a lot of products on your hair, wash it with a build-up remover shampoo one week before coloring. This will help the dye to take
- Do a patch test 48 hours prior to coloring. Follow the instructions on the box. Don’t skip this, it could save you a nasty allergic problem!
- Shampoo and condition your hair in the usual way, the day before applying your new color
- Choose a time when you won’t be disturbed and can relax and take your time. Let the phone ring and don’t answer the door. This is your time!
- Put on your old t-shirt, gather your old towels and make sure that you have everything you need before you start
- Read the instructions on the box. I know you’ve probably read them a few times but read them again – just to be sure!
- Apply some petroleum jelly all around your hairline. Don’t get it on the roots or the color won’t take. This is to protect your skin from excess dye drips and make clean-up easier
- If your hair is very thick, section it off with the butterfly clips. This will help you to get it right down to the roots and spread evenly. (Remove the clips once all the dye is on and massage it in thoroughly)
- Mix up the dye according to the instructions on the box
- Stylists advise that you should start by putting the color on the back of your head and then work your way forward. This makes it easier to apply the color evenly
- Apply the color from the roots to the ends of your hair
- Once the dye is all on, check the time so that you don’t ‘over cook!’ Leaving the color on your hair longer than the instructed time won’t make it any deeper. Hair color automatically stops processing after a set time and it won’t color beyond that time. That’s why it’s important to only mix it up as soon as you want to use it and not before – and to get it onto your hair without distractions
- Dispose of any left over products and check for drips!
- Once time’s up, shampoo according to the instructions and with the product provided
Don’t try this at home… if…
- You want to go from any shade of dark hair to blonde. This can be a difficult color change and if the hairdresser runs into any problems, they’ll know how to fix it. You won’t!
- If you have a lot of natural red tones in your hair – unless you are going red!
- If your hair has been chemically colored or permed in the last month
- If you want a complicated look such as highlights and lowlights or blocks of color
- If you’ve previously had any sort of allergic reaction to hair colors